Teens, Social Media and the Judgement we Pass

Social Media

Social Media….

it’s a jungle out there. Firstly, let me say that I have been guilty of what I’m about to write. Why am I writing and exposing myself and possibly many of you who are reading? I’m writing because we need to address ‘Social Media, Teens and the Judgement We Pass’. We are raising teenagers and I’ve had a gut full of the harmful chatter. It’s time to say something.

It’s a jungle out there. Firstly, let me say that I have been guilty of what I’m about to write. Why am I writing and exposing myself and possibly many of you who are reading? I’m writing because we need to address ‘Social Media, Teens and the Judgement We Pass’. We are raising teenagers and I’ve had a gut full of the harmful chatter. It’s time to say something.

Before I start, may I remind you of the biblical story found in John 8. This story pays reference to people living in glass houses ‘He who is without sin throw the first stone.’

What has me buzzing today? As a social media professional, I understand social spaces and offered the ‘behind the scenes view’ of posts, comments, snap stories, etc. My kids, however, would tell you that I don’t always get it right. I have, on occasion, misinterpreted things. This is where my guilt rests. Having teenagers and being the first generation of people to raise kids an overexposed world has caused my opinions to change.

Where is my frustration? It’s in the conversations outside of social media. I’ve been in them; heard them about other kids, and I been confronted with them about my kids. It annoying. We follow our kids; then we follow our kids’ friends; our kids let us follow them, and we see their life unfolding in front of us. Or, what we think is unfolding and we make comments outside of social spaces. What happens next? We talk about them and comment on their wild ways because of the what they post and sadly we judge them. They are put in boxes that they don’t deserve to be put in. A degree of marginalisation happens. Assumptions are made about them, and we chat about them. Before we know it, their reputations are tarnished. It’s appalling, and we need to check ourselves.

Thankfully Social Media Wasn’t Around During My Youthful Days…

I’m grateful that social media wasn’t around in my youth. I cringe when I think what could be out there for the world to see. There is one photo from my younger years that will stick with me forever. It’s one my kids have seen and although quite innocent it’s a moment that wasn’t one of my highlights. I tried to find it to share it, but it’s tucked away somewhere safe. It’s a picture of me, in a club with a tight, form-fitting white dress with black dots. I was sitting on Philip’s lap, cigarette in hand. It was innocent, however, had I posted, at the time, people would have made assumptions about me, they would have put me in a category. I can’t imagine knowing that my parents’ friends would see glimpses of my life exposed as I was discovering who I was and making mistakes.

I’m grateful that I wasn’t under the microscope and constantly in view. I’m thankful that my parents’ friends, my aunts and uncles rested knowing that I was probably up to something but remained constant in my life. They didn’t busy themselves chatting about my foibles and selfies. Instead, they helped me walk out my truth and gave me safe places to land. Places without judgement, ridicule, smerks, and ridiculous comments.Social Media

In some ways I guess this article is a cautionary tale. One that reminds us of how many selfies the kids we are talking about take before posting the perfect picture. One that also tells us to think about the way we post do question whether our posts bring expression to what is going on in our lives?

To the one who posts the perfect family, the greatest vacation, the dates with bae (ugh!) and the happy family off to church. We all know that the perfect family doesn’t exist. For example, our recent Christmas vacation was great, and we had some incredible highs that I posted. However, what you didn’t see was the fight in the airport and the moment when my husband was cranky at how I had packed and the weight of our bags. When he made us repack in the middle of the airport. Oh, the expletives I was letting go of. These scenes are the ones we leave out. For the happy family on route to church, I’m sure some Sundays are great, and you arrive intact but on other Sundays, the ‘road to church fight is underway’. As for the photo of the date with ‘your bae,’ I have no words.

Social Media is a jungle

So be kind and realise that what you see teens posting doesn’t mean they are on the wrong path. It doesn’t tell the entire story, it gives ridiculous highlights of the fun they are having, it’s only part of the story. Stop judging them based on a moment in time and yes, perhaps a stupid moment that they will regret posting. In most cases, they aren’t falling off the wagon. They aren’t on the highway to hell. They are living their life, they are exposed on every level, they never know when they are being filmed or when images are being captured. With that in mind step away from the keyboard, get off your high horse because it’s easier to get off than fall off. Become safe places for them, put your gavel down and lessen up on judging them. They don’t need Judge Judy in their life.

In the end…

These kids know the ins and outs of social media, it is part of the life they have lived, and your judgement doesn’t encourage them, it doesn’t build them, and it certainly doesn’t draw them closer. What it does is puts a wall or a block between you and them. It may be an actual block whereby they use their rights, and they prevent you from seeing their life unfold or, they apply their social media knowledge to your posts, and they don’t judge you, they simply call your b*ll$h*t and lose respect for you with every post. Harsh but true.

Susan

Back to School… The Aching Heart of a Mother

IMG_1543Over the past few weeks, kids across Australia have headed back to school Lazy summer days are over and the school bell beckons our attention. How did our holidays slip by so quickly? Where did the days, the plans, the sleepovers go? Alas, we are faced with lunchboxes, new diaries, schedules, school fairs, sports carnivals, meet the teacher nights and homework.

This year, I sent off my eldest, Sophia to complete her final three terms of Year 12. Our son, Gabriel, is in Year 9, and our sweet little Ella is in Year 5. How did we get here? Where did the years go?

Whilst scrolling through Facebook and looking at everyone’s back to school photos, I landed on a picture and post by my friend

Katie and her big boy

Katie and her big boy

Katie. Katie’s eldest is heading off to the big school, and by that I mean Kindergarten. Her photo said so much. I could see the sadness in her eyes and the excitement and anticipation in his. The eagerness to step into this new adventure was all about him and that familiar pang in the heart and guts could be seen in Katie. Her comment read: “The only photo I was allowed to get of this big boy starting school this morning. We’ve found ourselves here in the blink of an eye (my blink – not his). Every day has been a treasure and today especially … My big, brave boy walking off to class with his puppy (Teddy) under his arm.”

As I read her words, I found myself lost in a world of grief. I remember the first day of big school for all my children and today, especially Sophia. I commented on Katie’s post and confirmed the blink. We are warned of it when we have our children, but it never seemed real – until now! Whether for Katie, who is embarking on the school years, or myself who is nearing the end of a chapter for one child, I desperately don’t want the story to end, yet I am excited and feel that I am being prepared for Part 2, or the “to be continued”.

As I drove my children to school (yes, I made my 17-year-old let me drive her to school for her final first day of secondary education), I looked over at her sitting so confidently and beautifully beside me. In a blink, my mind raced back to the day when I was driving her to prep, perched in her car seat, lunchbox grasped in her hand, feet dangling and listening to the Wiggles. Today, I looked at this woman who is prepared to face the world, to go out and explore and to live a life she loves. There were no Wiggles in the background; rather it was something she had chosen from her playlist, a new band she had discovered that speaks her language. I felt a tear in my heart.

I thought about the years of school and all the moments that could be found in the BLINK. The hormonal days I’ve had driving them to school, yelling like a lunatic, knowing that my hormones were causing me to be a complete nutter. The days that her hormones were all over the place causing her to freak out over the length of her skirt, shoelaces or the shade of her foundation. Mums of teenage girls, you know what I’m talking about. The times when I forgot it was costume day or, the many mornings I dug through the contents of my car trying my best to create news stories out of discarded straws, matchbox cars or business cards simply because news day crept up each week far too quickly. What about the birthday cupcakes that I didn’t bake and the ones the other mums did, the decorated ones that deserved a spread in bloody Martha Stewart Living? What about the assemblies where awards were given out for picking up the most garbage on the school yard or acing the spelling bee? I made it to some, but others I missed because I simply hadn’t put them in my calendar. It’s in these moments that I scream at social media because undoubtedly another doting mother has posted or texted me a picture of my children because I wasn’t there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the photo that was sent, it’s just the personal guilt I struggle with.

Then there’s the parental academic and sports jousting. Thankfully, I did my best to avoid this trap, and I would advise my younger friends to do the same. Trust me, it kills friendships and damages your kids. In saying that, as a mother who works out of the home, I have been guilty of secretly despising the mums who don’t miss a beat. Those who bake, complete every inch of homework on time, never forget a library book, attend every excursion, incursion, book parade and fair. There have been times when this has bugged me, downright annoyed me and left me feeling “less than”.

But today, as I look at my daughter, I’m so glad I learned to be grateful for the picture-taking, baking mums who have filled the gaps when I have fallen short. The ones who have cheered my children on from the sidelines when I didn’t make it or I was away working.  I am forever grateful, and I too have held their children when they’ve been hurt or have forgotten a book. I have been there and although I highlight the times I missed a beat I know that I was there more than not. In fact, my husband and I have made every effort to attend as much as possible for our kids. But, the cookie doesn’t always crumble the way we would like it to.

What I do know is that as we have matured as mothers and fathers and are now looking at the women and men we have raised, we realise that we have grown with them. We have become better. We celebrate each other knowing that our children will make mistakes. They may not always get straight A’s or become the school captain or valedictorian. They might get suspended, talk back to a teacher or upset another student and that’s okay because it is all part of their journey.

To my eldest, Sophia, I want to thank you. Thank you for being amazing. Thank you for always being so teachable and allowing us to shape you, because as we’ve shaped you, you’ve changed us. Thank you for letting me re-live my school years through the many projects we did together – I apologise for taking the reins during these times and becoming a crazed mother. You know I LOVE the project work!!! Thank you for the moments that you have created, the ones that have had us doubled over in laughter and the ones that have seen us go through a tissue box. Thank you for working hard and getting good grades because that has seriously made our job much easier. Thank you for becoming my morning DJ on the days where only JB, Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers or, more recently, Lana Del Rey and the infamous Kanye West would take us to where we needed to be. Thank you for those times we sang Adele’s HELLO and Bonnie Tyler’s TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART at the top of our lungs. Thank you for getting your driver’s licence and giving us the opportunity to spend 120 hours in the car with you. Hours I will never regret. Slow trips to Canberra, hair-raising lane changes and a few near misses. I’m sorry for those “grandma” moments when I hit the invisible brakes and grabbed for the door handle.

As for your school lunches …. well, I tried my best, shunning processed food in favour of healthier options, but it’s fair to say that dinner is more my priority. Dinner is when we get to gather at the end of the day, linger around the table and share stories of the day’s adventures. Oh, the joy.

To the parents out there who are still tearing up either because, as my friend Katie, your little one has just started, or because, like me, you hope the days linger and slow down, just relax and savour the moments. Take it all in because if you blink, you might miss it. As parents, be intentional about cheering each other on, it will only help our school communities and the relationships we find ourselves in. Life is way too short to concern ourselves with what we perceive other people’s problems to be. As the good book says: “Whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” And in one of my favourite quotes, J.M. Barry encourages us: “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” Wise words, indeed.

 

GetRealLive Radio is BACK!

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We are excited to invite you to join us tomorrow for GetRealLive Radio. Yes, there is Real Talk Radio with myself and Mark Zschech and back by popular demand and much planning, Nicole Liboiron and I are hitting the air waves tomorrow morning and we would love for you to join us.

 

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Tomorrow we have a really interesting guest. Author, Joseph Wakim, will be with us and he will be sharing his story about losing his wife and how he had to step in and raise his 3 Daughters on his own. Published by Allen & Unwin the book is called, ‘What my Daughters Taught Me.’ It has been described as a ‘brilliantly honest memoir … hilariously so’ and also a ‘fight against gender and cultural stereotypes’.

The book not only deals candidly with father-daughter relationships, but also with resilience, hope, faith, masculinity, strength, grief and the ‘humour hormone’.

Tune in tomorrow at 10am (Sydney AEDT) and be part of the conversation. We will be taking calls, answering questions and comments from Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Click on the link below to listen live or on demand

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The Truth Sets You Free

Truth

 

I have always searched for truth. As a young 20-year-old I remember sitting with a group of women, we were talking about life. It was a faith-based women’s group back in the early 90’s. It was called ‘Women’s Aglow’ but I lovingly referred to it as ‘Women on or in Heat’ (apparently it depends which country you come from whether you say on or in… it doesn’t really matter, either way). To this day, my mind still boggles at the thought of that name for a women’s group. Being a marketing person, I always like to question the ‘why behind the what’ and this is a classic example. However, I think the better question to ask is ‘Why Did I Even Go?’ I realise now I was in search of TRUTH and so I found myself there. I promise that in my 20’s this was not my scene at all. I can only think that with my new found faith, it must have been the only watering hole at the time. I was new to the faith; I was full of zeal and zest, and the world was exciting and new to me. But I found myself lost in this women’s meeting, feeling like I didn’t belong……AND I DIDN’T.Read More

100 Women of Influence Nomination

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Some days you never know what will come across your desk and the invitations you will receive. Today is one of those days.

This week I received an email to let me know that I have been successfully nominated for the  ‘100 Women of Influence’. What an honour to be amoung these extraordinary women and be considered for such an award. Whatever the outcome, I am forever grateful for the life I live, the work I get to do and the people I get to work alongside.

Have the best week and keep digging deep and doing great things. Remember; small steps always lead to big ones.

Susan xx

Wise Words from a man with Down Syndrome

lessonsI was recently in Canada visiting, family. I was home for my eldest brother’s wedding, and it was a beautiful, intimate gathering of family and friends. While home I had the opportunity to spend time with my siblings, it wasn’t rushed time, it was real time, and it was so good. Soul food, indeed.

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Three Unexpected Lessons I Learned from an Ex Heroin Addict
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The other day I found myself in an extraordinary conversation. I was sitting alone, minding my own business when a man I know approached me. For the sake of this article, I will refer to him as Steve. Steve almost invaded my space, like he has on many occasions. I was sitting, relaxing and watching the world happen all around me, in fact, I was enjoying the solitude that I had found within the busy of where I was.

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